Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Power of technology

By EDGARDO J. ANGARA, Manila Bulletin

WE live today in a world where fast access to information could prove to be decisive in any situation, be it war, trade or sports. We discover new information not by watching the news, which can be manipulated, but by innovation and improvisation.

We are bombarded daily through media with important facts and figures, and even the smallest details on just about anything, The question is how we put to use such data to our advantage.

Fortunately, if we have the passion to succeed in the drive to be ahead, we need only to use our education wisely. Then again, it is no longer just about intelligence and goodness.

One must now contend with technology. We must use it wisely and harness its power in a timely fashion.

Otherwise, any moment of hesitation or refusal to realize its value will freeze us on our tracks, and it will be some time before we can recover.

They used to say knowledge is power. Today, however, power is knowledge. And I mean specifically technological power.

Countries that utilize new technology, whether in agricultural productivity of industrial capacity, are already miles ahead of the Philippines in nearly every aspect. That’s because technology is equivalent it efficiency.

When there is efficiency, there is less spending for productivity. And that usually results in higher profit margins.

In the corporate world, that leads to more room for expansion. In government, the result is more farm-to-market roads, schools and bridges.

It sounds quite simple. But there is one more thing.

The technology I talk about for advancement requires a human partner who will supervise its utilization and try to make it even better.

You the graduates of 2006 are not only partners. You will have exceptional opportunities to contribute to newer, even better technologies. Now is your time.

Let me caution you though that technology can be misused, and at times deliberately. Like a rouge state manufacturing nuclear weapons, or a government eavesdropping on its citizens, are two examples that come to mind.

However, don’t be dismayed by such instances; in fact, let them inspire you to do the opposite, like improving the lives to your countrymen, raise the living standards of your generation and the next generation, as we endeavored to do during our time.

Like you, I too have a dream. I think of the day when farmers of the country will have quick access to current market prices, weather patterns, climactic changes and soil conditions to increase their income: When our fishermen will be able to sell their produce online instead of transporting them on vehicles that ply rough roads.

I envision a time when the underclass will be the ones who will benefit from the resources of their community instead of others. I dream of the Philippines being safe and secure in food.

Imagine if every province was connected to each other through a computer network where information could be downloaded in seconds. Thinks of the businesses to be spawned if such a system were in place, and the investments to come.

What it there was a chain of convenience stores in provinces where farmers could place orders for fertilizer, equipment, seeds online?

What if we applied new technology to come up with high yield seeds? What if we came up with new ways to raise more fish or harvest more marine products?

What if we could come up with better post-harvest technology to ensure the freshness of farm produce? What if there was a way to prolong shelf life for our perishable food?

For this to happen, we need to foment a revolution: A technology revolution. In the simplest of terms, connect the remotest of villages to the most modern of cities through information technology; studying the genes of plants and animals through biotechnology.

The scenic spots of Zambales and its coastal areas remind me of the time when I was growing up in my home province of Aurora. I walked the dusty roads on weekdays on the way to school and roamed the forests and mountains on weekends.

I spent hours admiring the rugged coastline while the waves went back and forth. Often, I wondered how I could contribute to improving the standards of living in my hometown where agriculture is the main industry, even up to now.

I realized that the solution was not to become industrial overnight, but using what was there, like our seas that offer a bountiful catch, and the land where the soil is kind to the tiller.

So now, I have initiated a project to make our province wired to the world, where a digital village composed of kiosks housing computers will be established. All of them will have Internet access.

Being rural, need not be a disadvantage. On the contrary, it may be the biggest asset of many provinces.

Let me paint a more vivid picture so you can easily visualize it. How would you like to smell the scent of the sea wind in the comforts of your farms while watching the colors of dawn and dusk as you take online orders for your products from overseas buyers?

Indeed, it can be that simple. If we uplift the rural sector of society, we will surely improve the lives of the majority.

We can modernize our country through technology.

Technology can minimize, if not eliminate, cheating during elections. Technology can improve the performance of our athletes. Technology can end conflicts.

Technology is needed to remain competitive, to contend with globalization, where trade barriers are fast disappearing. The sooner we realize this, the better for us all.

As we continue our astonishing journey through the IT revolution, remember that it has limitless possibilities. To make the most of it, however, we must also acknowledge that there are challenges – and choices to be made.

We must seize the opportunity. History has taught us that choices cannot be deferred; they are made by action or inaction.

To the graduates of 2006, I offer congratulations. I know you are very hopeful, for all the possibilities of the IT revolution.

But to make the most of your life and the opportunities you have been given, you too must rise to your responsibility to give something back to the country.

As the years pass, your generation will be judged and you will begin to judge yourselves not only on what you do for yourself and your family, but on the contributions you make to others – to your country, your communities, your generation of children.

When you turn your good fortune into a chance for others, you then will not only become leaders in science and industry. You will become leaders of this country.

The Philippines will then belong to you – make sure to take good care of it. Thank you and God bless!

No comments: